How to Improve GPS Signal

Imagine going to a place you are not familiar with, and your GPS device suddenly stopped receiving a signal. How would you keep going if you don’t know the way? There are reasons behind inaccurate GPS readings, and they will be identified in this article. The ways on how to improve GPS signal in cars will also be enumerated.

What Is GPS?

GPS, or Global Positioning System, was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for military purposes. It became available to the public in the 1980s. Since then, it was popularly used in cellular phones, cars, boats, and aircraft.

GPS is a navigation system used in different applications to provide accurate information about the location of something. Most GPS devices have a built-in interior antenna.

How Does It Work?

The GPS receiver coordinates information from signals of three to four satellites. This information is composed of the satellite position and the exact time of the transmission. With these two data, the accurate location of the receiver is identified.

The three satellite signals are enough to determine 2D location, but any additional signals can increase strength and reliability. GPS devices work in most conditions and provide accurate location information within three to five meters.

There are basic factors that affect the performance of GPS devices. These include:

  • the range of satellites in the sky,
  • the number of signals received, and
  • the quality of the receiver.

Factors that Affect GPS Signal

Only the U.S. government and the military can develop, maintain, and operate GPS satellite signals. The only thing that the consumer market can do is to choose a high-quality GPS device and make some adjustments when errors occur.

In order to determine the ways on how to improve GPS signal in cars, check out the list below. It enumerates the possible causes that affect the quality of GPS signals.

  • Location

The GPS device can find it hard to complete a navigation data string because of the physical obstructions in your current location. Tall trees, undergrounds, buildings, windshields, and other man-made structures can disrupt or block the signals that cause delay and error.

  • Weather

Thick clouds can cause anywhere between a bad signal reception to a total loss of signal. However, in contrast to the assumption of most users, weather elements such as rain, snow, and fog do not weaken the GPS signals. In fact, these elements cause signal loss by only 2dB as compared to the 180 dB signal loss caused by buildings and other physical obstructions.

  • GPS Hardware

The quality of the GPS device says a lot about the accuracy of the signal received. One important part of the GPS device is the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) chip, which serves as the brain of the Sat-Nav device. High-quality GNSS chips provide a better-quality signal and shorter time for the receiver to search for the position.

  • Area Where the GPS is Installed

Since most GPS antennas are integrated within the device, the extent how open or not it is to the sky is unknown. If you are experiencing delay or error in signal reception, your GPS device might be installed in an area that is hidden from the sky’s position.

How to Improve GPS Signal in Cars

When you experience signal loss or delay, you can actually fix or improve it through one or a combination of the following steps:

1. Steer clear of physical obstructions such as buildings, trees, and other big structures. They can hinder the signal, which can reflect the signal and lower the quality of the GPS performance.

2. Mount your GPS device in the part of your car where it will have a clear view of the sky. The best location is under the front window. Doing so will significantly improve the quality of the signal.

3. Make sure that the GPS device has sufficient power supply.

4. Install an external antenna, which is designed to double the signal strength.

5. Active antennas should be installed further away from the GPS unit to improve the signal strength. It is more expensive than a passive antenna, but it is worth an investment especially for large vehicles and buildings.

On the other hand, passive antennas should be mounted at a distance not more than three feet away from the unit. It basically receives the signal and passes it to the GPS device. It is cost-effective for smaller types of vehicles.

6. Turn off the battery saving mode. The battery saver or the power-saving feature makes the GPS device lock signal less often and can even disable it, which degrades real-time positioning.

7. When buying a GPS device, choose the latest model. The most current GPS chips work better in achieving signal lock faster than the old models.

How to Choose a Good GPS Device

While internal GPS devices are inexpensive and convenient, portable ones can improve signal strength and are cost-efficient for cars without built-in GPS. If you are looking for a reliable car GPS device, there are important factors to keep in mind.

  • Budget

GPS devices come in different price range depending on the brand and features. If you have a higher budget for a new GPS device, head units with built-in GPS abilities are worth an investment.

For less expensive GPS units, you need to be satisfied with a small screen and few features. After all, your main goal is to increase the accuracy of your location and prevent signal loss and delay.

  • Type of Receiver

The overall function of the GPS device is highly dependent on the sensitivity of its receiver. Make sure that you choose a good-quality receiver that will highly impact the location of your car while on the go.

  • Screen Size

While driving, you wouldn’t want to take your eyes off the road. A large screen will allow you to read the information at a glance easily. The resolution is also worth considering because low-resolution screens are difficult to see from afar.


Improving GPS signal in cars can be as simple as staying away from physical obstructions to as drastic as adding an antenna. You are lucky if you only have to transfer your GPS device in a spot where the sky is visible.

However, the most effective way to improve the signal is to buy the current model of your GPS unit. Newer GPS devices are made of better chips that lock and find the signal in a manner of seconds to help you be on the right track again.

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